Skimming and Scanning

Skimming and scanning are reading techniques which use rapid eye movement and keywords to move quickly throughout the text for different purposes.

Skimming means reading quickly to get fundamental idea (gist)
Skimming can be a difficult skill to master for students as they try to say the words as they read. This can slow down speed, so to skim effectively you need to practice not saying every word, but to keep moving your eyes down the text and not get side-tracked with details. For instance, aim is to notice a repetition of words or ideas and get the gist of the text.

How to achieve goal of skimming:

  • Read the title to get an idea about the topic.
  • Read the first paragraph attentively to get an idea what we will discuss in the text.
  • Read and underline first two lines of each paragraph.
  • Read sub headings and subtitles.
  • Read and underline last 2 lines of each paragraph (unnecessary, only if not getting idea).
  • skim the last paragraph of the text.
  • Underline key words.
  • Underline numbers, dates, figures, places, etc.
  • Underline repetition of words (synonyms) e.g. rich–affluent.

Scanning means searching for specific phrases, dates, numbers, keywords in the text.
We use scanning when we know what to search, so we need to focus on keywords and organizational clues.

How to achieve goal of scanning:

  • Always keep in mind what you are looking for (eg decide few phrases and keywords to search).
  •  Only one keyword at a time.
  • flash your eyes down the page until you find the word or phrase.
  • Search date, numbers, percentage carefully.
  • Read to justify your answer.
  • Read each question carefully before starting to scan.
  • Re-read the question to determine the answer you found.

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